You may not realize that your yoga practice reveals a lot about you to your yoga teacher. An experienced yoga teacher can scan the room, even before class officially begins, and can read the energy of the students. A teacher looks to see if you are tired or wired, sedate or elated, present or out-to –lunch in 4thcentury Rome or 23rd Century Orion. That’s why good teachers don’t practice while they are teaching, they are eyeing the room, lovingly watching and reading the students.
Though teacher trainings don’t hand out special glasses, yoga teachers develop almost x-ray vision—an ability to see your innermost being through your practice. We can see where your resistance emerges; we watch how you react to challenges, limitations, breakthroughs and triumphs. We notice if you get playful or angry, resolute or defeatist, curious or annoyed when the pose gets tough and the heat gets hot. We’re not judging; we’re trying to help get stronger and more awake.
How about yoga students? Do you watch yourself? Are you awake and aware to what comes up in practice?
Pema Chodron says “The most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently”
My favorite teacher, Baron Baptiste, often asks his students–are you teachable? Of course, Baron—being a rock star veteran yoga teacher—can already see who is and isn’t open, who is ready, courageous and willing to take risks and go deep, who is holding back and trapped by fear or hostility. But his question is meant to awaken and challenge. Are you teachable? Do you show up on your mat to learn or perform? Can you drop the ego and take an honest and gentle look at what you’ve got in the present moment? When you become the non-judgmental witness to your practice, you can begin to heal and grow. By looking inward, staying aware, you learn from the greatest teacher—yourself.